Local colour

Does the area you grew up in have any peculiar words, phrases or slang that you particularly remember. Hiberno-English is always noted as being particularly colourful, and I found the same quantness listening to and reading of rural America from books like To Kill a Mocking Bird.

I’ll give you some from what I can remember. (of Irish words)

Feen and beor (or bjor, pronounced like it’s Scandinavian, e.g. Bjork.) Feen being Cork slang for a fellow and bjor for a lady. Usually someone who is typically of that area. So a typical Cork “head” would be a feen or bjor.

Sambo - A word that got many an Irish person in trouble when they emigrated to London. It means sandwich

Gobshite - Something you might call someone who has annoyed you or done something particularly stupid.

do be - I think this is directly from Irish, and is continuous past or present tense. As in “He do be talking a lot of bollocks.”

quiche = it’s over, all finished, done.

The drink is quiche.

Well the area I grew up of course had normal standard pronunciation but here in the Boston area there are some… oddities… quite apart from the well-known “pahk the cah and have a wicked good time” kind of thing.

The weirdest thing for me is: Didn’t/doesn’t = did/does – I can’t quite write down the rules for this, but under some circumstances, if you’re over a certain age and speak with a really broad Boston accent, you can get away with using a negative contraction when anyone else in the world would use the positive.

Something like this: “He did that thing. And so didn’t she.”

St. Louis, Missouri area:

Hoosier - An unsophisticated, possibly rural type. Outside of this area, Hoosier is the term (not perjorative, AFAIK) for someone from the state of Indiana. Apparently, there was a migration of Indiana residents to this area at some point in the past, and the locals here thought they were unsophisticated, hence the perjorative. These days, the link to Indiana is largely lost around here - it’s just a general perjorative.

Redneck - Similar. This one may not be so localized to this area. A rural unsophisticated person - often a farmer or someone who works outside. From the red sunburn on the back of their necks, IIUC.

Wifebeater - Not sure if this is local or not. Term for sleeveless undershirt worn as shirt by a man, often to show off their upper arms, I think. Perjorative description of the shirt to imply wearer beats up his woman.

Perjorative - This is apparently a very local misspelling of the word pejorative, used by a certain QT3 poster who doesn’t always spell check when the red squiggly line shows up under words he types.

Seriously though - doesn’t that word have 2 r’s in it?

I think Redneck and Wifebeater are pretty much universal in the US.

In the south:


I think you know who this is.

Hereabouts when I was growing up, the common pejorative term for redneck was “grit,” which in addition to “rural and unsophisticated” also implied deliberate crudeness, confrontational ignorance, and, now that I think about it, poverty. I’m not sure where it came from, but my guess would be the newspaper, which seems a bit unfair to the newspaper.

I’ve seen the word used in that sense exactly once on the Internet, some fifteen years or so, by someone from outside Cincinnati. I’ve been curious how far it ranges ever since.

Aside: My guess is that “Pejorative” looks like it wants another “r” on account of “perjury.” No relation between the two words that I can tell, though.

– Courteous Hoosier.

I still, years later, find myself using a lot of military jargon in my everyday parlance - working for a veterans’ organization certainly doesn’t help that much.

Squared away: To make correct, derived from military inspection standards that often dictated with geometric precision how objects and equipment were supposed to be laid out.

Butter-bar: Pejorative term for a 2nd lieutenant, thanks to the single gold bar of their rank insignia. Used in the office to refer to any new employee of director-grade.

Pogue, pogey: Allegedly derived from POG (Personnel Other than Grunts), or non-combat-arms military personnel. See also “pogey bait” (candy). Rather ironic to have the only department in the organizational headquarters staffed by former combat arms veterans who are now all “super-pogues”.

talking of military parlance.

Gopping: Not very nice: “This tea is fucking gopping you nonce.”

And just being Bristol.

Oh what the heck, it’s much easier to just link it than try to re-write it:


I actually had a little illustrated “Bristle / English” dictionary at one point. Published in the early 70s, I think.

“Wot you cook these eggs in? Moat royal?”

Mardy is a word I heard a lot growing up in the middle of England, but seems largely unknown elsewhere. It basically means “sulk”.

Having a mardy - throwing a tantrum.
Mardy cow - emotionally challenged woman.
Mardy bum - someone who cries a lot or has regular emotional outbursts.

Specific to the area that I grew up in:

“Over the Hill” as in “I’m going over the hill to get groceries.” – traveling to the eastern part of the county, where the nearest large stores, and stuff are.

We say, “I’m fixing to go to the store.” What needs to be fixed is unclear, however.

This is disappearing in the St. Louis area, but sink is pronounced “zinc” by some.

Caramel is pronounced “karmel” here.

We’re mostly a “soda” community. We don’t drink “pop” here.

And we don’t refer to it as “St. Louie” despite the famous Judy Garland rendition.

Local color, what we hereabouts call local colour.

My favorite still is parts of the South where you can say “might could”, “might should”, and “may would”.

Grew up in India & Wisbech & public school, all of which had their own slang. But India & a public school had much more similarity than a public school & Wisbech, especially due to the rich mix of hindi words into upper middle class english, and vice versa.


Boor - short for neighbour. “are you alright then boor?” was standard greeting

Rarely use “s” on third person present tense “He go up to Lynn”

Use of “do” rather than “or” after “don’t” - “Don’t pet the cat do he’ll scratch you”

“Spud” for “potato”

India - too many to mention!

English public school slang

“mufti” (from the hindi) for being out of uniform

Fagging - to do chores

A fag - someone who does chores

Tuck - food, grub, especially sweets

Swizz - to swindle, a swindle, unfair

Pukkah - good (now more general slang), also from hindi

sound - solid, a good chap.

He’s got bottom - another way of saying sound

Colours - to represent the school at the top level in sports, and did well, you got your colours (a striped tie, rather than plain, and right to wear a white jumper with stripe rather than grey jumper)

Daybugs - non boarding pupils

Bedbugs - boarders

The ol’ Massachusetts negative positive. Of course the people around here are just packed with crazed verbal ticks. I swear to god I learn a new one every day from my south shore coworkers. “I tripped on my bobos an took a headah. So retahded.” Fascinating!

A friend of mine lived in Mississippi for a while, and there they say they’re “making groceries”, which I found charming.